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Now, Saregama to make films

Saregama, India's oldest music company which has about 300,000 Bollywood songs in its treasury, is expanding and venturing into filmmaking business

india Updated: Dec 29, 2006 21:08 IST

Saregama, India's oldest music company which has about 300,000 Bollywood songs in its treasury, is expanding and venturing into filmmaking business.

The company is rolling out with renowned film director Aparna Sen's "Kite" and Ken Ghosh's untitled venture.

"We are looking at seven verticals of business - first vertical is the creation of market for music through emerging technologies like cell phone, CDs and DVDs. Second vertical we are doing is films because it is adjacent to music. We know the community well and we are building capability in films," Saregama India Ltd managing director Subroto Chattopadhyay told IANS in an interview.

He, however, refused to discuss the budget of the new ventures.

For its film business Saregama is associating with one of top creative minds in the field, roping in B.R. Sharan, of Lalita-ji Surf ad fame, as chief creative officer (cinema and television).

"Sharan has 24-25 years of experience in the industry and he has a very nice mix of technical and creative capabilities. He has worked with filmmakers and producers of great eminence, so he understands the film genre well. He has also worked as creative head in an advertising agency, so he understands the technology and process very well," said Chattopadhyay.

Apart form Sharan, the 106-year-old firm has also joined hands with Vijaylakshmi, known as Asia's first woman cinematographer.

"She has been a cinematographer all her life. She monitors our TV content business out of Chennai. She knows filmmaking well.

"We are in the process of taking on board someone who is a person of great capability and eminence and comes from the eastern India. The name will be out in just a few days."

According to market sources, the third celebrity to be associated with Saregama will be none other than Aparna Sen.

Apart from having best of creative minds, Saregama also plans to introduce best of technology.

"We would like to bring in some cutting edge technology and processes and best practices around the world to enable us to do this well - we are on the hunt for it.

"We have two-three projects on hand. We have one film with Ken Ghosh. We are doing a music video with Rituparno Ghosh and which is around (Ravindranath) Tagore's poetry. It is an international product. We are planning to do 'Draupadi' with Rituparno. We are also planning to do a film called 'Kite' with Aparna Sen."

Chattopadhyay says budget will be no constraints.

"At this point in time our budget is appropriate to the content. First we will understand how the whole things happens, hire specialists and professionals and then we will flesh out other details. But one thing is sure, we will work with domain knowledge experts."

The focus will be on mainstream movies. "As we roll out we will be mainstream entertainment," he said.

And of course, content will be given priority.

"We will be indeed focusing on good, strong stories and strong scripts because it is the soul of a film. We will be driven by high quality content. I also believe good quality content can be well marketed," he said.

The company has bought 18 acres of land on the outskirts of Kolkata to build its studio.

Chattopadhyay said: "Film city is within the realm and I don't see no reason that why we shouldn't consider it seriously. But it needs to be evaluated, financial viabilities to be looked at and we need to decide what kind of technology we want to deploy because it's a fast moving situation."

In the TV industry, Saregama is active in the south and is planning to tap Hindi and Bangla channels as well.

"We produce 14 hours of content for Sun out of Chennai in four languages and we have been doing it for three-four years. And I think we are doing it nicely. Now, we have to think how we scale it up and transfer that capability to other languages.

"Right now we are reviewing the whole TV business and we will be looking at Hindi and Bangla channels as well. Bangla is a very, very widely spoken language."

Moreover, the firm is also going into radio content and event management.

"Events help you to socialise your business and bring consumers and entertainment together. So we are looking at event management and if you look at all of them are adjacent businesses with touch points."

Good news for wannabes as Saregama will provide a bigger platform to showcase their talent.

First Published: Dec 29, 2006 21:08 IST